Muhammadu Buhari first contested to be President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2003. He failed. He failed in 2007. He failed in 2011. All this time, he yearned for the Presidency so badly, In fact, he cried when he lost in 2011.
When Muhammadu Buhari came in, he met an economy with a rising debt ceiling, dwindling oil prices, and a government with little financial discipline, but there are issues that still need to be addressed.
1. It’s hard to tell if Buhari was ready.
Muhammadu Buhari woke up on April 1, 2015, knowing he was going be the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. On May 29, almost two months from that day, he was sworn in. No matter how visionary a leader is, nothing can be executed without a team. Governance 101.
It took Buhari another four months to send the list of ministerial nominees to the house for screening.
What that waiting period did was create lots of uncertainties, and if there's one thing an economy can't tolerate, it is uncertainties.
2. His policies were more reactive than pre-meditated.
One of the reasons why 2016 was ugly is the delay in key policy implementations. Effective and efficient policies are strategic and well planned, but that’s not what we saw. Most of the policies implemented have been as reactions to current economic events rather than in anticipation of them.
For example, the removal of the fuel subsidy and the 67.63% hike in the pump price of fuel in May was done in reaction to the lingering fuel scarcity.
People queue with their vehicles to buy fuel in front of a fuel station at Agege district in Lagos, Nigeria April 5, 2016. To match NIGERIA-OIL/ REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleyeplay
People queue with their vehicles to buy fuel in front of a fuel station at Agege district in Lagos, Nigeria April 5, 2016. To match NIGERIA-OIL/ REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
Also, the floating of the naira in the forex market in June only occurred after several calls for a currency adjustment from renowned economists, both domestic and international. Not like there was a real floating anyway.
While these are laudable policies, the economy might not have deteriorated to its present state if they had been implemented much earlier.
3. Unimpressive Fiscal policy.
The fiscal policy is how a government spends money to influence the economy. The fiscal policy plan is in simple terms the budget. In Nigeria, the government is the biggest spender, unlike some more advanced economies where the private sector is the biggest spender. When the biggest spender isn’t spending, there’s basically no money.
Nigeria had no budget until May 6, almost halfway through the year. This clearly put the fiscal policy at a disadvantage and made it work below par.
4. Lack of coordination between the Federal Government and the Central Bank.
Godwin Emefiele play
Nigeria's central bank governor Godwin Emefiele speaks during the monthly Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja, Nigeria. (REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)
On more than one occasion, the Federal Government gave completely different opinions to the Central Bank on the same economic issues. While this might show that perhaps, the CBN is independent of the Federal Government, as it should be, it is also a pointer to the lack of coordination. Sometimes, the Central Bank went on to blame the Government for the country’s woes, since most of the country’s problems stem from fiscal policy implementation.